November 13th

Another Recipe…

Chicken Enchilada Soup

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used the kind with sweet onion in it)
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped yellow, green, or red bell pepper (I used red, which is my favorite pepper)
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1½ cups milk (I used skim)
1 cup shredded Pepper jack cheese (4 ounces)
2 chicken breasts

In a 3½ to 5 quart slow cooker, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. Place 2 chicken breasts on top of mixture. In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker.Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
Remove chicken and cut or shred into bite sized pieces. Add chicken back into soup.
Top with pepper jack cheese and serve. Can also be topped with avocado, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips. Note: if the soup is too thick for you, just add a little more milk after it’s all cooked.


November 15th

Shake it off…Shake it off…

Shake It Off

One of my favorite stories is about a farmer’s donkey that fell into a dry well. The animal cried pitifully for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do for his poor donkey. Finally, he concluded that the well was too deep, and it really needed to be covered up anyway. Besides, the donkey was old, and it would be a lot of trouble to get him out of the pit. The farmer decided that it was not worth trying to retrieve the animal, so he asked his neighbors to help him fill in the well and bury the donkey.

They all grabbed shovels and began to toss dirt into the well. The donkey immediately realized what was happening, and he began to bray horribly. Crying would be our normal response if somebody was mistreating us this badly, so this donkey was responding the same way we would at first, but then he got real quiet. A few shovel loads of dirt later, the farmer looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit the donkey’s back, the donkey would shake it off and step on top of it.

As the neighbors and the farmer continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he continued to shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon the donkey shook off the last shovel full of dirt, took a step up, and walked right out of the well. We can learn so much from this story. When trouble comes, if we will get still and listen, God will tell us what to do.

By the grace and mercy of God, I was able to shake off a lot of things in my life, a lot of hurt feelings, a lot of mistreatment, a lot of abuse, a lot of unfair, unjust, unkind things. Just like the donkey, in order to keep pressing on and have victory in our lives, we are going to have to learn to shake off the troubles that come our way.

From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer. Copyright 2007 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

Wow. You know how you get smacked in the face with reality and things to improve yourself? It’s been happening these past two weeks with this devotion and once again I am amazed how a few paragraphs can smack me in the face. I am one for holding on to things, to people, to words, to situations…why not just shake ’em off and become stronger trampling the hurt beneath like the donkey did with the dirt? Why not make a “dirty” situation one for growth and a stronger relationship with God? Instead of struggling beneath the hurt and dirt, listen…and shake it off! Yep…I’m gonna work on shakin’ it off! No more dwelling on the past of let-downs and failures…it’s time to press on and realize what better of a place I’m in! Yes, maybe I was like the donkey…complaining and crying, pitying myself, and running to tell every little problem to someone who would listen…maybe I should keep quiet and listen…and shake it off. Because eventually those problems will turn in to successes and the failures into victories…and hurts into freedom of pain.

Tomorrow is my birthday!

A friend posted on facebook today:

Age 18…
Dated: My neighbor
Now: Married (not to my neighbor)
Wanted to be: Foreign correspondent
Now: Small business owner (brewery)
Biggest fear: Flying
Now: Corporate-run America
Where I lived: Denver/Lincoln, NE
Now: Columbia Falls, MT

Like it and I’ll give you an age

She gave me the age: 20.
Dated: I think I was hanging out with a guy in my study abroad program…or at a frat party…
Now: single…
Wanted to be: Event Planner for a Resort in California
Now: A Traveling ESL Teacher! and then, in a few years, a Study Abroad Director at a University or ESL Teacher in an inner city school.
Biggest fear: Public Speaking or Managing
Now: finding cockroaches in my suitcases! (oh wait that happened to a friend and I was right there!) so… I’m not really sure…I’m not really a fearful person.
Where I lived: Nairobi, Kenya and Lincoln, NE
Now: Holdrege, NE… just got back from Jangyu, South Korea…
Just reflecting on the past few years and how much I’ve changed and grown since I was 20! (6 years ago!) I am so incredibly happy with being 26, and I feel great! I’m seeing the world and I have the best family and friends anyone could ask for…they have are supportive and have faith in me and love me unconditionally and I know I am one very very blessed woman.

November 16th
Today’s my birthday…

Lovely messages…emails…texts…and phone calls…Thank you everyone for making this day so special!

Ran 9 miles in an hour and a half. Feels great!!!

November 17th/18th

Two close friends of mine drove down from Lincoln to my parent’s home in Holdrege…so incredibly sweet of them to make the drive to come hang out for the afternoon and evening!!!

Here’s what I made!!! Successful baking day! YAY!

A-Freaking-Mazing Artichoke Dip

Just mix everything together in a baking dish and then throw it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes or until it’s heated through. 

8 oz. Cream Cheese, warmed in the microwave for 2 minutes on 50% heat to soften it – (Even if you’re making your dip in the oven, pre-microwaving the cream cheese will help you mix it with the other ingredients, so I recommend not skipping this step.)
A dollop of sour cream – maybe 1/4 – 1/3 cup
A dollop of mayonnaise – about 1/4 cup
About a cup of chopped spinach (either fresh, cooked, or frozen, thawed)
2 cans or jars of non-marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
Garlic salt
Chili powder – be generous! The cream cheese and sour cream will act to “cool” the dip, so you can sprinkle away with the chili!
A handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

Cookie Dough Dip Recipe
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins

Serves: 12
The most delicious recipe for cookie dough dip you’ve ever tasted.
Ingredients:1 8-ounce package cream cheese
½ cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup toffee bits
Cream together cream cheese and butter.
Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined.
Serve with graham crackers or apple wedges.
Do NOT use reduced fat cream cheese as it may cause your dip to have the wrong consistency. 
I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese and it turned out great! 🙂

Vanilla Cupcakes
Yield: 18-20 cupcakes



2 1/4 cups cake flour (I used Swan’s Down brand)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (this helps maintain the bright white color)
1 ½ pounds (24 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk


1. Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium speed for 3 minutes, or until the butter and sugar are very light. Add in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter fully incorporated and smooth, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
5. Once ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Using a large scoop (about 3 tablespoons), distribute the batter between 18 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Cool on wire rack.


1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and seeds from vanilla bean until fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in confectioners’ sugar, and continue beating until well blended.
2. Add in vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened.
3. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Graham Streusel Coffee Cake

this cake was the “camping” cake…the cake we would ALWAYS make when we would go to Fort Kearney for the weekend… 🙂 then I learned to make it and became the cake I would make for company…

2 c (28 sqaures) graham cracker crumbs
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c butter, melted
1 c water
3 eggs
3/4 c chopped nuts (optional)
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pkg white or yellow cake mix
1/3 c vegetable oil

1. Mix crumbs, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter: reserve.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees
3. Grease and flour a 9×13″ pan
4. Beat cake mix, water, oil, and eggs on low speed until moist.
5. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes
6. Pour about 2 1/3 c batter in pan
7. Sprinkle with 2 c crumbs
8. Pour in the rest of the batter and crumbs
9. Bake 45-50 minutes

1 c powder sugar
1-2 tbsp water

1. Mix sugar and water until smooth
2. Drizzle on cake

Best with coffee… 🙂

November 20th


Some days I feel so displaced. Memories flood through my head. Maybe it has to do with clearing away six boxes of old high school and college junk. Terrible photos, old notes, sobbing journals full nonsense words…I’ve grown so much. Still the memories flood. Part of me wants to be sinking my feet in some exotic sand, another wants to be in my Korean cafe, another wants to open the red door of my Phoenix apartment and drive down the freeway going 80 or walk across the street for a Starbucks latte, another wants to be in a crowded market in Nairobi or Nampo-dong, or Insa-dong prying through treasures and making bargains, and yet another wants to just continue to curl up on my parent’s couch with a good book. How did I pull myself into so many places? I kakao talked my Cafe Muse lady. And she is doing well…she’s a bit sick now. The weather is cold. She misses me. And I miss her. It’s not the same as face-face communication. Especially with the language difference. I continue to wonder how my kiddos are…I know they are so full of energy and talent…will in get wash away into the daily grind of pressure to get into the best university starting when you’re 5?

I can see myself anywhere. Living…laughing…making friends. I hope the people I meet understand if I need a day of reflecting and missing the other places and people I’ve met…it just happens every now and then that I let my mind wander to displaced locations…I’ll be brought back to my current location in a matter of minutes…

And as of this morning…25,000 views…Exciting!!!…I truly hope you enjoy the current stories, pictures, and recipes…I know I’m not abroad, but stayed tuned for more overseas adventures in 2013…and the process it takes to get there! Xx

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